African American Hollywood Film Study The film I review is Coming to America directed by John Landis. In the center of the story is Akeem, an extremely pampered Prince of Zamunda (African state) refuses the desire of his father to marry the women who was specially educated to become the Queen (IMDb, 2018). Two scenes are important to our paper. First is the discussion of love between Akeem and his parent.
They expressed their individual view on love. The second the elephants that was seen multiply times in the first 10 minutes of the movie. She has not personal desires and strive to do Akeem’s orders; even when they are silly (like, barking and hoping). However, Akeem wanted to have a wife who loves him for his personal traits, instead of his status.
This mark the first part of the movie end the alienation of here from his normal environment. Thus, the Prince decided to come to the USA (particularly to Queens, New York) and to find wife there. This mark the second part of the movie hero try to solve his problem by the mean of adventure. Akeem meets and felt in love with Lisa, the daughter of the McDowell’s owner and the employee of this fast food restaurant. He started to work there as a cleaner for becoming closer to the girl. The rest of the film discloses the development of their relationships, disclosure of the hidden status, opposition of Akeem’s parents to his decision to marry Liza, the wedding ceremony between Akeem and Liza.
This part is important in that it builds the characteristic of the hero as a masculine by showing him stopping the robbery of McDowell’s, intelligent by quoting Nietzsche and no materialistic by show he giuve the money to the homeless guys and donation to the charity. The last part of the movie show that here reconcile with his problem and return to a happy states. This movie help to reduce the negative image of African. In the movie, African American take up multiply role as king, queen, prince, servant, barber, own of restaurant and employee of the restaurant. This help to show African as normal people who work hard and hold a functional role within a society rather than dysfunction savages. This movie to a smaller part do show negative image of African including stealing of Akeem luggage and resell it, Darryl’s laziness and lying and landlord who abuse tenant but all of this is common in other film when white people are the majority character.White people created and controlled the major part of the world cinematography since its early days.
The art of motion-picture photography has been sharply influenced by social belief and class relationship. Whom every control the camera control the reality being projected. White producers tend to represent Africans and African Americans as people with different lifestyles belief and culture.
Society has changed a lot since the early day of movie making, civil right movement have change the class relationship between white and African American. In Coming to American majority of the actor are African American. Overall, white people were underrepresented in Coming to America.
A hand full of white people who appear in the film are the taxi driver, one of the clients of barbershop, and the servant in McDowell’s fast food. All these actor play the secondary roles in the movie. To certain extent, they avoids conflicting racial attitudes. Whites do not have better job or social status than Blacks. From the writing of dyer about simba we can see than African are being reperenested as savage white as the saver of the day and bring civilization to the continent. In the movie Akeem, an African, is actively searching for love and in the process of searching fort love he mature from a pampered child to a mature man. He himself bring the change instead of being educating, This demstrate a mjor improvement in the repedresenation of African America in movie from being passive and permissive to active and intelligence.
However, unlike Sango-Malo, Coming to America does not make any references to the existence of a white American and any power of Whites over Blacks. All the heroes are rather happy and prosper. Akeem and his family live in the Royal Palace, while Liza with her father and sister has rather big home in New York. They live in abundance. Akeem even gives significant sums of money for charity and rough sleepers. Unlike African film, which depicted class conflict, modern Hollywood movies tend to show less sufferings and class struggle due to the government control which we discuss briefly in the class.
At the same time, heroes of modern Hollywood films and the films presented in 1930th are obliged to encounter with serious social issues connected with their status. However, the character of these issues changed. In the Hollywood films of the 1930s, they were obliged to deal with racial inequality and stereotypes; while in modern time Coming to America, they should overcome the obligations connected with their social status (being the member of the Royal Family or a daughter of a wealth person).
Jungle MovieAt the same time, Coming to America still has some characteristics of a jungle movies. These characteristics are reflected in the depiction of the Royal life in Zamunda: African music and dances, wearing animal skin, and walking elephants nearby the palace. In such a manner, Africa s depicted as the state that still has customs and traditions connected with jungle life. Africa and Africans are places of otherness to Western viewers. As the films of the 1930s, these attributes partly contribute to the viewing audience’s misperception of Africa. MasculinityComing to America does not strive to reaffirm gender inequality or masculinity. In this film, women play the important role in social lives and decision-making processes.
Liza organizes charity meeting in the church and works in her father’s business, while the Queen persuades the King to break established traditions and allow Akeem to marry Liza. At the same time, men still make the core decisions and hold the greatest power. The King rules the country,; and Liza’s father holds and the restaurant. In such a manner, the films of the 1930s and 1980s have some references to masculinity, but its sharpness decreases in course of time. Woman’s Refusal to Follow Established TraditionsDespite sharp reflection of masculinity in the movies of the 1930s and Coming to America, these films still depict women’s non-desire to follow the rules established by a men’s world. For example, in Jezebel, the main heroine “refuses to live by the Old South’s restrictive codes of femininity” (Dyer, 1998, p. 56). She was too ambitious and intelligent to be obedient to the social standards.
This film was chosen for the comparison because it portraits the life of Blacks, despite the fact that the major heroine was White. In Coming to America, Liza also doesn’t want to marry a man who did not ask her to become his wife, even if her father insisted on this marriage. This hero was rather smart. She wants to make this serious life decision by herself.
Unlike Julie (the major hero of Jezebel), Liza was not vulgar and does not break established cultural traditions. These examples show that Hollywood films of the 1930s and of the modern time still emphasize on supefemale hero. At the same time, in the modern tie African American women do not challenge the whole society, only her father’s decision to marry her without her consentGapFilms of the 1930s and Coming to America have such common feature as gap between the population. In the movies of the beginning of the 20th century, the artists reflect the gap between rich and poor, significant tensions, and negatives images of the upper class (Dunn, 1996). The film Coming to America also reflects the gap between wealthy and poor. This is viewed in the scenes in the Royal Palace, where Akkem is served by dozens of attendants; or in Liza’s house where Akeem in the role of servant pours out sparkling wine. However, in the modern cinematography this gap becomes less sharp. The Royal Family in Zamunda and the rich family in the USA do not reflect oppression or negative attitudes to servants.
They are rather polite and respectful.Realistic StyleThe films of the 1930s and 1980s tend to achieve realistic styles. The major heroes are shown in the locations of their living: the Royal Palace and Liza’s house. Camera shows their daily actions, like Akeem’s taking a bath and Liza’s reading during seating on the sofa. The common scenery for these people increases realism of the actions.
By viewing the Palace and the streets of New York, the audience in their minds come to these places and lives the life of the heroes. ConclusionTo summarize, the above pages critically reflect the ways in which Africa and Africans have been portrayed in recent Hollywood films on the example of comparison movies produced in the middle of the 20th century to modern Coming to America. This work shortly introduced the plot of the film for better understanding of the ways of depiction of Blacks in it.
The comparison reviles that unlike Africans in old Hollywood films, Africans in modern films do not face sharp inequality from the side of White people and suffer from oppression and poverty. The level of depiction of masculinity and specific jungle features becomes lower, but it still exists. Both types of films are full of realism and necessity to address certain social issues. However, in old films, Black struggle against race inequality, while in recent films that fight with obligations imposed on them by their status and wealth. ReferencesDunn, K.
..Africa: Images of Africa and Africans in Western Popular Films of the 1930. African Studies Review, 39 (1), 149 – 175. Dyer, R. (1988).
White. Screen, 29 (4), 44 – 65. IMDb. (2018).
Coming to America. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094898/